A/N: This chapter comes chronologically after “INNER-Lude #1: Pam.” The INNER-Ludes are a series of outtakes/side stories/interludes that cannot be told from Eric’s first-person POV because he is not part of the scene. If you haven’t already, you might want to check out Pam’s POV before returning to From the Inside Out.
When I woke up, it was to a sight that both warmed my heart and fueled my lust. I’d gone to my rest in the small bed in the cubby with a naked Sookie spooned against me. Though I was still lying on my side and Sookie was still by my side, she was—unfortunately—no longer naked.
Not noticing that I was awake yet, she seemed absorbed in a book—What to Expect While You’re Expecting. The title was popular enough that—even if there hadn’t been a picture of a pregnant woman on the cover—I would have known what the book was about.
I watched for a moment as Sookie’s expression changed in nuances as she was reading. Her soft smile moved to a slight grimace, to a momentary look of disgust, to a small frown, and then back to a little smile within a minute. And her emotions corresponded with the expressions—her feelings fluttering a little at a time as she read. However, those fleeting feelings didn’t interfere with her dominant mood: contentment.
Like I said, the sight warmed my heart.
However, even as she held the book with one hand, her other was quite busy. She was wearing a T-shirt and the large pair of shorts I’d worn when I was at her home without my memories. They were pushed below her belly and her shirt was pushed above it. She was rubbing lotion on her belly, drawing alluring little circles over her skin. I knew that she was trying to avoid stretch marks, but she might as well have been taunting me with her smooth skin.
Like I said, the sight inflamed my lust.
When she moved her hand to turn the page, I took the opportunity to take over the rubbing.
“Oh—hey, you’re up!” she said.
“Up—yes,” I leered.
She giggled and then placed the book to the side. It immediately slipped off the bed. “We really do need a bigger bed down here.”
I chuckled, even as I continued to caress her body.
“You should have built this room bigger,” she remarked as she moved so that she was lying on her side facing me.
“I couldn’t,” I shared.
“Hmm?” she asked as she closed her eyes and simply enjoyed my touch.
“Well, I could have—but the blasts needed would have likely damaged the house.”
“Blasts?” she asked, her eyes opening and showing concern.
“Yes—the earth is quite rocky below your home. The contractor could have blasted through it, but—as I said—that would have threatened the home. Luckily, this small area was relatively clear.”
Sookie’s expression turned more serious. “Well—then—that makes this decision easier.”
“What decision?” I asked.
“I’ve thought a lot today—well—about everything,” she started somewhat tentatively. “And I think it’s time for me to do some more moving forward—as opposed to holding on to the past, especially when it’s not practical to do so.”
I felt resignation in the bond. I didn’t like it.
“What do you mean?” I asked her.
“Well—this house for one,” she said, brushing away a tear. “I mean—I love it, and I always will, but it’s not really best for us if we can’t make a bigger space for you.
“But I don’t need a larger space,” I said—a little confused. “I mostly just die for the day down here,” I added, waggling my eyebrows. Of course, my day-rest was often preceded or quickly followed by making love to my new bonded.
She rolled her eyes. “But a crib won’t fit down here, and I don’t even want to imagine having to lug two kids up and down the stairs. Of course, the kids will grow fast—so there is that to consider.” She shook her head. “But—no—even a day or two wrangling them on that ladder seems like too much.”
“Sookie—what are you talking about?” I asked.
“Well—I’m not prepared to fully leave you or them during the day, and I like to be with you part of the day, even though you are just sleeping. Maybe it’s the bond, but I feel like I need to be with you sometimes during the day. Don’t get me wrong—even with moving forward—a big part of me wishes that we could keep living here, especially until the kids get a handle on their gifts and whatnot. But we should move somewhere that has—uh—a bigger vampire space, preferably one you don’t have to get to by using a ladder.”
Her words had been spilled quickly, both I could feel both regret and resolution in them.
“You would move—for me?” I asked with surprise.
She nodded. “Well—yes—of course. I mean—like I said, I love this house and all, and I love Bon Temps, despite some of the people here. But we need a bigger space. For us! And I’m sure you want to be closer to Shreveport.”
Suddenly, I felt anxious. I had a solution to the “problem,” but I knew that my solution might draw out fairy Sookie.
And not in a good way.
“Why are you feeling guilty all of a sudden?” Sookie asked as she sat up, her T-shirt falling a little and to cover her belly.
Too bad for me.
“Um—I did something you will not like. And—until now—I have,” I paused, “avoided telling you about it.”
“You think it’s gonna piss me off?” she asked.
“Yes—especially if I would have told you before we figured out our issues. Before we bonded.”
“And now?” she asked with challenge in her tone.
“We’ve—uh—had a lot to deal with,” I hedged.
She took a few deep breaths. “Is it worse than the Nora thing? The Salome thing?”
“Different,” I responded.
“You had sex with a man?” she yelled out.
I chuckled nervously. “No, min kära. Well—not for a very long time.”
She glared at me. “Well then why do you feel even guiltier now than you did when you told me about Salome?”
“Because it will upset you.”
She took a deep breath and then reached back to get a bottle of salt water. After taking a long swig, she looked into my eyes. “Tell me,” she ordered.
She was a pregnant fairy. I wasn’t prepared to disobey her.
“I did it while you were in the fairy realm last year,” I said. I wouldn’t disobey, but I was prepared to stall a little more.
“And it was high-handed?” she asked, her hands flexing into fists. As least they weren’t lit up.
“I was,” I admitted.
“More high-handed than renovating my whole house and having this cubby built?”
Was that a glow I saw from her palms as her fists tightened even more?
Yep. I. Was. Fucked.
“Maybe,” I said somewhat noncommittally.
“And you haven’t told me yet!”
Definitely a glow. Fuck! I. Was. Definitely. Fucked. I was pissing off the pregnant fairy—again!
“I wanted to wait to tell you until after the children were born,” I tried.
“Wait until I wasn’t in a delicate condition!” she stormed.
In truth, there was absolutely nothing delicate about her in that moment.
“You might actually like some of it?” I spoke out hopefully. “Especially in light of what you said earlier.”
“What. Is. It!?” my fairy demanded. Yep—definitely fairy Sookie. Her eyes were even dilating and becoming lighter.
I steeled myself. This would hurt, but mostly because of the betrayal I was bound to see in her eyes.
“This,” I sighed, using my long reach to pull a remote control from a hidden compartment under the mattress. After I clicked a button, a panel in the ceiling opened, and a mechanical whirring was heard.
“What the fuck?” Sookie asked, turning around to watch a screen descend.
I steeled myself again, figuring I was going to get shot when I showed her the next part.
I clicked another button and images from cameras concealed in each room of the farmhouse appeared.
“You’ve been spying on me!” Sookie yelled out, obviously angry—and also hurt.
I had been right. Her hurt was more painful to me than her anger.
“It’s a close circuit system,” I explained softly. “It can only be seen from here—nowhere else. I installed it for security only.”
She looked back at me through narrowed “fairy-light-lit” eyes. Yep—I would be “getting it.”
But at least, the hurt in her expression was eclipsed by her rage now.
“Only for security?” she asked.
Fuck! My response sounded like a question even to me!
“But the bonus was that you could be a peeping pervert?!” she yelled out.
“Hey,” I said somewhat innocently, “I really never intended to use it to spy on you.”
“Intended!” she yelled, hitting my shoulder—with her light!
Fuck! That little shock hurt!
“Sookie,” I tried to sound firm and not anxiety-ridden, “look—I spent quite a bit of time here before your return from Faerie, and I needed to see what was going on above me.”
“Are things recorded?” she asked, though her lips hardly moved.
“No!” I assured quickly.
I could see her calming a little. “Tell me the truth. What would you have done if you were down here while I was showering or something?”
“Before we got together?” I asked, sheepishly.
“Yes!” she seethed.
“I watched,” I said honestly, earning myself an even stronger zap.
“Two nights after I got back from Faerie!” she demanded.
“Yes,” I confessed. “But it’s not like the camera is aimed into the shower or at the toilet,” I offered.
“Where is it aimed?” she asked, even as she turned to study the screen.
“The camera is in the vent above the toilet,” I sighed. “It’s aimed at the door. So—I swear—I just caught a glimpse of you as you toweled off.” Somehow, because of her hurt—and because I didn’t want her to zap “it” off—I kept my erection at bay as I remembered wishing I had been her towel. “You really are more beautiful than I had ever imagined,” I offered, reminding her that I’d not been reticent about “spying” on her in person either.
Not that the reminder helped my cause.
She stood up and started pacing the small space before preceding to ramble out a diatribe that included curse words in configurations that even I’d never heard before.
For example, who knew that “fuck shittity fuck!” was proper usage.
And then she said some things involving religion, but I don’t think she was praying for guidance.
Apparently, Jesus Christ had a middle name—starting with an “H.” Good to know.
And he liked to be “on crackers.” Ooo—kay.
I also learned that she should be making me “pick a switch.”
S & M and Sookie. Who knew?
She ended her rant by putting her hands over her belly and promising her kids that if they turned out as highhanded or perverted as their father, then they would be picking their switches—no matter how fast they grew up.
Again, I steeled myself, waiting for another blast of her light. Or worse. More of her hurt-filled eyes. I just prayed that I wouldn’t lose her trust over this. That was my greatest fear, in fact.
Finally, she stopped and turned around to face me.
I’ll admit that I may have cowered a little.
“Does anyone else know about this system? Pam? Anyone?”
I shook my head. “The contractor and his whole team were glamoured to forget.”
“You are going to promise me—right fuck shittity now—that you are never going to use this system to spy on me or our kids.”
A sighed with relief. The children were back to being ours.
“Other than that one shower, have you ever . . . ,” she started, but then stopped.
“No,” I swore, “and I just did that because I needed to . . . .” It was my turn to start and then stop speaking.
“Needed to what? Be a perv!?” she yelled.
“Needed to make sure you were alone,” I said quietly.
We both heard the defeat in my tone.
“Bill had been here the night before. He’d ordered you away,” she remembered.
I nodded. “Yes. I thought he might have been allowed to,” I paused, “stay.”
“You could have just listened to see if he was here,” she said skeptically. “Or smelled.”
“I know, but . . . .”
“His scent was fresh right outside the front door—as if he’d been there that night. And, with the water running and the soaps and other products in use, I couldn’t be sure, and I didn’t want to—uh—come upstairs if you weren’t alone,” I admitted.
“So you violated my privacy in order to respect it?” she asked incredulously.
“No—my reasons were selfish,” I clarified, “but not in the way you think.”
“Explain it to me then,” she insisted.
At least she was listening and not lighting me up.
“I didn’t want to see it—in person—if it was happening,” I said quietly. “And I didn’t want Bill to know I was here if he was too. He would have lorded it over me—reminding me of it at every turn. So I came down here to confirm that you were alone.”
“What if I wouldn’t have been?” she asked.
“I would have left—hopefully without anyone ever suspecting that I’d been here. And I would have . . . .” Again, I couldn’t find it within me to complete a fucking thought.
“I would have realized that I didn’t have a chance in hell,” I said in a trembling whisper. I realized that I’d moved my eyes to look at the floor, but I mustered the courage to raise them to meet hers. “I would have given up.”
“You? Give up?” she asked skeptically.
“If Bill could win you back in one night—after you knew what he’d done to you. After you knew he’d had you beaten nearly to death just so that he could get his blood into you. Just so that he could manipulate your feelings and your dreams in order to procure you for someone else . . . .” Again my voice trailed off.
“But, by then, you’d also tricked me into taking your blood, and I’d had dreams with you in them, too.”
“Yes,” I owned. “But I wanted you to have my blood because I wanted you for myself—not because it was a job to me. And I never manipulated your feelings,” I swore, letting her feel the truth of my words through our bond.
“But you did send dreams,” she challenged.
“I know. Three,” I choked out. “But only one was intentionally sent.”
“What do you mean?” she demanded.
I closed my eyes for a moment. “Maybe it’s better that everything comes out at once. No more secrets,” I added, almost to myself.
“No more,” she agreed.
I opened my eyes and exhaled un-breathed air. “When a vampire ‘sends’ a dream, a single emotion is imprinted upon it. This is the emotion that sets the tone for the dream. I would hazard to guess that Bill’s dreams to you included an element of fear—or anxiety that you might lose him. Or lust.”
“You’re right,” Sookie confirmed dejectedly as she sat back down on the bed—though at the other end of it from me.
“Which one of the three did you intend?” she asked.
“The first one.”
“Do you know what happened in it?” she asked with a hint of a blush.
I looked down at her fingers. Not glowing.
I shook my head. “No. I know only the emotion attached to the dream.”
“What emotion did you send,” she asked, even as I could practically see her thoughts churning to recall all of the dream’s elements.
“I wanted you to know that I cared for you,” I supplied quietly.
“Yes. So I sent affection with the dream. After the bombing—actually after you found out that you hadn’t needed to suck the silver out of me—I felt your disdain for me. I wanted you to know that I’d done what I did because I cared.”
“Explain!” she ordered again, though not quite as harshly as before.
“You were ‘officially’ Bill’s. If he would have told you everything you needed to know about the blood, then you wouldn’t have sucked the silver from me.”
“But I would have. You told me you would die if I didn’t,” Sookie explained. “Things might have been,” she paused, “complicated between us at the time, but I wasn’t about to let that happen.”
“Which showed me that you cared,” I said with a little smile. “But, Sookie, make no mistake about it, Bill should have helped you to understand the implications of taking another vampire’s blood. And, more importantly, he should have been by your side right after the blast. It was several minutes before he arrived, and he was pink from a recent feeding.”
My bonded considered this information for a moment. Honestly, I was surprised to feel nothing more than acceptance from her—acceptance for what Bill had done. And not done.
“You feel acceptance regarding his actions?” I couldn’t help but to ask.
“It’s not that I accept his actions as in ‘approve’ of them,” she explained thoughtfully. She took a deep breath. “It’s that I’ve accepted the fact that the Bill I thought I’d known was a construct—not real at all. He might have wanted to be a ‘good man,’ but he didn’t succeed—at least not when it came to me.” She took another deep breath. “He was what he was. Just as you are what you are.”
“And what’s that?” I asked anxiously.
“My bonded. The father of my children. The man I love. A highhanded idiot with a vampire’s sense of personal boundaries. And,” she sighed, “a thousand-year-old survivor who needed to be aware of the world above him.”
I sighed with relief.
“What about the other two dreams you sent?” she asked me. “The unintentional ones?”
“One happened the morning after,” I paused, “Godric killed himself. I was awake well into the day, and vampires have less control once the bleeds begin, but I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want to escape my pain by letting the day have any kind of victory over me.” I paused again. “I wanted to suffer. Needed to. But my lack of control and my intense emotions . . . .” I shook my head. “I realized I’d sent the dream only after I’d done it.”
Sookie closed her eyes. “The emotion was grief for that one.”
“It would have had to have been,” I confirmed.
“The last one?”
“Another sleepless day. I realized that I’d likely signed my own death warrant with Russell by killing Talbot. By then, I had learned of Bill’s duplicity. I was trying to figure out how to secure you. And Pam. And the others in my retinue. But mostly you,” I emphasized. “Again—in my weariness—I’d sent the dream before I realized what was happening.
She processed my words, obviously comparing them to the dream itself. I gave her as much time as she needed and opened our bond to her fully so that she would be able to know all that I was feeling as well.
“You were concerned about me that day,” she stated.
“Yes,” I confirmed.
“In that dream, I questioned you about Bill; I asked why I shouldn’t trust him.”
I sighed. “I had meant to tell you about Bill the night before that.”
“But I demanded to know why you were there, and you said goodbye to me instead,” she breathed.
“Yeah. I’d figured . . . ,” I stopped. “No—I’d hoped that maybe Bill had come to truly love you and would,” I paused again, “do right by you. Try to protect you when I could not. So I decided not to tell you.”
“What changed your mind about not telling me?” she asked.
“Two things: one selfish, one not. First, I had survived being outside in the sun with Russell. I hadn’t expected that. I hadn’t expected for you to come for me—to heal me. I wanted my chance with you.”
“And the unselfish one?”
“You were weakened after Russell and I took your blood, but you would’ve recovered on your own. I made sure of that by stopping Russell with plenty of time to spare. Nonetheless, Bill used the opportunity to put more of his blood into you. Whether or not he loved you, he wanted to keep the upper hand with you,” I answered truthfully.
Thankfully, my bonded had fully calmed during our conversation. She glanced back at the screen. “No more spying?”
“It’s a safety measure only,” I averred.
She nodded. “Okay. I’ll accept that.”
“Sookie . . . ,” I started, but then stopped.
“There’s one more thing I need to tell you,” I said. I was cringing again.
She cringed too.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed the chapter. Sorry. No time for an author’s note today.